The fact that Tom, Dick, and Harry had been in every one of those unique dashes across the snow-swept wastes of Seward Peninsula, from Bering Sea to the Arctic Ocean and return, and had never been “out of the money,” did not count greatly in his rigid code. The same distance covered slowly by freighters in pursuance of their task of earning their daily living would seem to him far more worthy of respect and emulation. And so, when the Tolman brothers, who were apt to be quarrelsome with those “not in their class,” showed a coldness toward Baldy that threatened to break into open hostility at the slightest excuse, Dubby promptly ranged himself on the side of the newcomer with a firmness that impressed even Tom, Dick, and Harry with a determination to be at least discreet if not courteous.
They had learned, with all of the others in the Kennel, to treat with a studied politeness—even deference—the wonderful old Huskie whose supremacy as a leader had become a Tradition of the North; and who was still in fighting trim should cause for trouble arise. He did not rely alone on his past achievements, which were many and brilliant, but he maintained a reputation for ever-ready power which is apt to give immunity from attack.
Dubby’s attitude toward the Racers generally was galling in the extreme. Usually he ignored them completely, turning his back upon them when they were being harnessed, and apparently oblivious of their very existence; except as such times when he felt that they needed suggestions as to their behavior.
There was, in a way, a certain injustice in Dubby’s contempt for what might be called the sporting element of the stable; for, like college athletes, they were only sports incidentally, and for the greater part of the year they were as ready and willing to do a hard day’s work in carrying goods to the creeks as were the more commonplace dogs who had never won distinction on the Trail.
But Dubby was ultra-conservative; and while “Scotty” must have had some strange human reason for all of these silly dashes with an absolutely empty sled, in his opinion hauling a boiler up to Hobson Creek would be a far more efficacious means of exercise, and would be a practical accomplishment besides. Dubby was of a generation that knew not racing. Of noted McKenzie River parentage, he came from Dawson, where he was born, down the Yukon to Nome with “Scotty” Allan. He had led a team of his brothers and sisters, six in all, the entire distance of twelve hundred miles, early manifesting that definite acknowledged mastery over the others that is indispensable in a good leader. He had realized what it meant to be a Pioneer, had penetrated with daring men the waste places in search of fame, fortune and adventure; and had carried the heavy burdens of gold wrested from rock-ribbed mountain, and bouldered river bed. He had helped to take the United States Mail to remote and inaccessible districts, and had sped with the Doctor and Priest to the bedside of the sick or dying in distant, lonely cabins.